Glimpse of Hope

UCF's football program has had a dark cloud hanging over it since Ereck Plancher's death a year ago. The team has been plagued by misfortune on and off the field, but the return of Darius Nall represents a hopeful change for the better.

Darius Nall sat in the back of the interview room at Bright House Networks Stadium with what was seemingly a sense of relief. He was laughing and joking with teammates and reporters. After months of grueling rehab, Nall had a reason to joke around.

The sophomore defensive end was diagnosed with cancer this past summer after he felt some discomfort in his chest, a pain he likened to someone stepping on him.

"One day, that's why I went to the training room, I had a funny feeling in my chest and they didn't know what it was until we took a MRI and we accidentally found something," said Nall. "If I never went to the training room, I never would have found anything."

After discovering the baseball-sized tumor in his chest, Nall immediately began taking steps to fight the cancer.

"Once I got diagnosed, I felt like I was going to die. After we had the surgery and went to the best doctor in Georgia, he said it was a successful surgery and then I went through radiation during the whole season. After that they took one more look and said I was cancer free. After they said I was clear, I was just the happiest guy on earth."

Coming back from surgery and chemotherapy was something that Nall knew was going to be difficult, but watching his teammates run around and be active was just as hard.

"It was real tough not being able to play and everything," added Nall. "I didn't think I was going to come back because it was cancerous. I just went through it and really just prayed."

During November, Nall went back to his home in Georgia to see his doctor again and was cleared. After he got the OK, it was time to start work again.

"I did (start strength and conditioning this Spring) but I took it very slowly at the beginning and now I'm back to speed with everything else."

Nall said that the chemotherapy and radiation took a lot out of him but he has fought to get back to where he was before the diagnosis and says he feels better than ever.

With spring football slated to start Thursday, Nall is now eager to get back to doing what he loves. However, things may never be the same for Nall, but it's probably a good thing.

"It did change my thoughts on life, like now I'm a more careful person. I don't take life for granted anymore and I know life is short so I live my day like it's my last now."

With controversy and negative sentiments swirling around the team since Ereck Plancher's death this past year, Nall represents a ray of hope in the program, as he is proof that anyone can overcome the darkest situations.

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